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Blooming exciting!

Researchers from the Australian Tropical Herbarium recently identified and named a new species of flowering plant in the genus Geosiris.
Blooming exciting!

(c) Tim Hawkes

ATH Adjunct Bruce Gray and Yee Wen Low have just described a new species in the iris family, Iridaceae, which they've named Geosiris australiensis. The plant was found only very recently by two local naturalists, Tim Hawkes and Tony de Groot, and is known from a single locality in the Daintree National Park, north Queensland.

This discovery is exciting because it is the first discovery in Australia of a small genus of plants previously known only from Madagascar and a nearby island (Mayotte). So, it appears to represent another biological link between the lands that made up the ancient continent Gondwana.

The plant’s lifestyle is very curious as well. It is a relative of the iris, but it is a kind of parasite called a mycoheterotroph. Mycoheterotrophs steal carbohydrates from neighbouring plants of other species indirectly, via a mycorrhizal fungus intermediary. The fungus forms filaments in the soil that invade the roots of both the victim and the recipient which then allow food to flow to the latter - a nifty little trick.

Read the published description here.